Monday, 24 April 2017

Susan Williams-Ellis + a very special dress

1980s Pomegranate Print silk dress 
I have just listed this beautiful dress in the shop and wanted to share a bit more about its fascinating history.

While out hunting for new pieces for Elly Maggy Vintage, I was immediately drawn to this dress' beautiful pomegranate print, reproduced on gorgeous, tissue-soft silk. 

When I spotted the interior label, I knew that this piece was very special. The designer of the print was named as Susan Williams-Ellis, the founder of Portmeirion Pottery and daughter of the architect, Clough Williams-Ellis, who built the brilliantly playful and colourful Italianate village, Portmeirion, in Wales. 

Having studied art at Chelsea Polytechnic under Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland, Susan Williams-Evans produced four panels for the 1951 Festival of Britain before becoming internationally famous for her distinctive Portmeirion Pottery designs. 

This particular dress has a very similar feel to her wonderful 1970 'Magic Garden' design with a similar colourway to her artwork for the Monte Sol pattern. 

1970s Magic Garden mug

1960s Monte Sol Kitchen canisters available at Chixycoco on Etsy
While researching online for more information, I was interested to discover that Williams-Ellis' granddaughter, Rose Fulbright, has continued the artistic tradition of her family and become a fashion designer, who reproduces Williams-Ellis' prints on a range of beautiful silk loungewear. You can view her lovely creations over on her website at

When my internet searches on the Cara label proved tricky, Rose kindly helped by providing some background on the dress, confirming that Williams-Ellis worked on her fashion project with the Cara label for a short while during the 1980s. She informed me that the print appears to be based on one of Williams-Ellis' felt pen drawings and was printed onto the silk fabric in India.

Having spent a large part of my life living on the Staffordshire / Cheshire border, I was delighted to find a piece of clothing linked to the Potteries. I've always thought that the inventive designs of the ceramics industry could lend themselves well to textiles and this dress is a beautiful case in point.  

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